Grenfell Tower fire: Diane Abbott claims survivors are being harassed by ‘ambulance chasing’ lawyers

MP complains to profession bigwigs

Diane Abbott has claimed that “ambulance chasing” lawyers are leaving victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster feeling “intimidated”.

In an email received by the Law Society and the Bar Council, Abbott said survivors of the Kensington blaze had complained to her office about the “disgraceful” behaviour exhibited by some lawyers. She claimed survivors have reported feeling pressured into signing deals with particular lawyers “on the premise that success depends on them (a group of survivors) all instructing one legal professional and/or firm.”

Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary continued:

Whilst at this stage it is not clear on which matters these individuals have been advised that they need legal representation, it is evident that legal representation will be required at some point and to this end, it is entirely for those affected by this tragedy to instruct the legal professional of their choice without being coerced into instructing firms who are clearly misleading people whilst they are extremely vulnerable.

The email, which has been seen by the Press Association, also references the recent allegations involving two Leigh Day paralegals, accused of “touting” for business at the site of the disaster. Abbott, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, said:

We are aware that two paralegals have been suspended following such allegations and I had initially believed that this was the end of the matter, however complaints have persisted and I offered to send this letter in an attempt to ensure that those affected by this have support and a voice where their concerns are raised at the highest level.

Legal Cheek reported on 12 July that both paralegals — despite backing from some of the profession — have since resigned.

Both the Law Society and the Bar Council have commented on Abbott’s email. Law Society president Joe Egan said:

There are strict rules governing how all legal professionals work. Under no circumstances would a legitimate solicitor make unsolicited approaches in person or by telephone. If anyone has concerns about the behaviour of a solicitor they should immediately report them to the regulator.

A Bar Council spokesperson added: “so far as we are aware no barrister has behaved in the way described.”

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